I’d seen pictures of the Senanque Abbey for months and knew this was a top spot for photos. There are many fields throughout the South of France, but nowhere else will you find a working monastery to add to the aesthetic of your photographs.
It wasn’t until I went through great pains to get there that I realized photographing yourself in the lavender is actually technically not allowed.I’ve always been of the mindset that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, so I risked the reprimand and ventured out to join other photographers in the fields. I promise that no lavender was harmed in the making of this blog post.
Those wanting to photograph lavender without breaking any rules will be happy to know that you are free to explore and wander in most public fields at any point in time, and you’ll find no shortage of them on a road trip through the South of France.
The Senanque Abbey is a special place, however, with church bells sounding in the background and the smell of lavender of wafting along with a soft breeze.
Here’s everything you need to know before visiting this idyllic location!
How to get to Senanque Abbey
You can easily access the Abbey on a half day trip from Arles or Avignon. If you’re coming from a little further, like Paris, simply take a train into the region and rent a car or take a tour from there.
While a lot of coach buses visit this place, I recommend that that you rent a car if at all possible so that you can explore other neighboring lavender fields without being restricted to a tour schedule.
Taking photos at Senanque Abbey
I’ve had a friend fly a drone over this location, and there were dozens of people taking photos in the fields. It gets crowded after about 10am so come early. There are also olive trees and bee hives near the fields. Definitely beware the bees!
If you’re going to stand between the plants, step gingerly and avoid stepping on the lavender itself. Be respectful of the environment and sanctity of the space. The Abbey itself is an active house of worship.
Best month to visit
In France, lavender fields bloom from Mid-June through July. I went in the last week of June/first week of July, and the lavender was about halfway grown. I would like to return a little later in the season to see it in full bloom. There are also sunflower fields readily seen in the same season.
While no souvenirs are sold by the Abbey, and taking any lavender from here is strictly prohibited, you can find lavender souvenirs throughout the south of France. I was able to bring back a bouquet, which smells heavenly. There’s a wide array of soap, potpourri and body creams.
Know before you go
Your cell phone will not work at the Abbey, no matter what provider you have, so make sure you communicate with anyone you have to before you start making the descent. It’s a thin road essentially on the edge of a cliff that goes both ways, so sometimes you have to squeeze to let another car through.
I recommend going for lunch and indulging in a gelato afterwards before heading on to your next town for the day. There is parking on site, but again it gets crowded so get there early. There is no fee to enter.
I hope this helps you plan your trip, and that you get to make your lavender dreams a reality soon.
Feel free to comment below with any questions and, until next time, safe travels!